President Biden is hitting the trail this week to drum up support among the American people for the bipartisan infrastructure deal reached last week, selling the local economic benefits of the $973 billion plan that will invest in the nation's crumbling roads and bridges.
Biden will travel to La Crosse, a city in western Wisconsin, and deliver a speech from its public transit center, during which he's expected to highlight the $48.5 billion included in the framework for public transit – funding intended to reduce both commute times and emissions. The president also plans to travel to Michigan on Saturday.
The bipartisan measure – which includes more than $500 billion in new funding over the next five years – will allocate billions to other "core" infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges, broadband internet and electric utilities.
The plan will be funded from a variety of sources, including reducing the IRS tax gap, redirecting unused federal unemployment money from the 26 states that are prematurely ending the relief program and repurposing other COVID-relief measures.
"This infrastructure bill, you know, it signals in the world that we can function, we can deliver," Biden told donors on Monday evening during a virtual fundraising dinner hosted by the Democratic National Committee. "We can do significant things and show that America is back."
The proposal will not raise the gas tax or taxes paid by Americans earning less than $400,000 a year – a selling point that Biden also intends to hammer home on Tuesday.
The White House and the group of Democratic and Republican senators agreed to the deal on Thursday, but the process nearly fell apart after Biden suggested he would veto the bill unless Congress simultaneously passed a sweeping, multitrillion-dollar package using the budget reconciliation process. Facing immense pressure from GOP lawmakers, Biden later walked back his comments and clarified on Saturday that he would sign the agreement if passed on its own.
Still, Biden has pledged to continue fighting for additional spending on so-called "human" infrastructure, such as expanding health care, combating climate change and enhancing care for elderly and disabled Americans, as well as children.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that Biden is "eager" to sign both bills once they are approved by Congress.
"The president intends to sign both pieces of legislation into law," Psaki told reporters.
With their incredibly slim majorities in the House and Senate, Democrats face a delicate balancing act in pursuing their so-called "two-track" agenda – approving the bipartisan deal while pushing through a larger reconciliation package – or they risk losing the support of either moderate or progressive members.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell urged Democratic leaders to abandon the plan to link the two pieces of legislation, warning that Biden's promise will be a "hollow gesture" otherwise.
"The president has appropriately delinked a potential bipartisan infrastructure bill from the massive, unrelated tax-and-spend plans that Democrats want to pursue on a partisan basis," the Kentucky Republican said in a statement. "Now I am calling on President Biden to engage Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi and make sure they follow his lead."